This lesson is the first of what eventually will be a 14 week study or survey of the Old Testament. There are two very good books on the chronology of the O.T. that I would like to recommend. They are The Chronology of the Old Testament by Dr. Floyd Nolen Jones and Annals of the World by Archbishop Ussher. The dates given in this study are taken directly from Dr. Jones’ book. What I am going to do in this lesson is show a basic chronology, show the thought process behind the dates, and spend some time on the implications of this chronology.
The way a basic chronology is developed is to start with a firmly established secular date which also overlaps the scriptures. There are 3 such places where there is a bridge between the two (secular and scripture): the destruction of the city of Jerusalem in the 19th year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 52:12-14), the fourth year of Jehoiakim with Nebuchadnezzar’s first year which was also the year of the battle of Carchemish (Jeremiah 25:1, 46:2), and then in the New Testament in Luke 3, the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar with the 30th year of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Using 586 BC as the date of the final destruction of Jerusalem, we can develop an outline of dates which will lead us back to a year for creation and also give us dates to start with from which many other dates and information can be determined.
586 BC – Final destruction of Jerusalem and fall of kingdom of Judah.
975 BC – 390 years from the division of Israel into N. Israel and S. Judah (Ezekiel 4:4-5).
1012 BC – Solomon reigned 40 years and the construction of the temple began in Solomon’s 4th year (1 Kings 11:42).
1491 BC – The construction of the temple began in the 480th year after the Exodus (1 Kings 6:1).
1921 BC – There were 430 years from the calling of Abraham until the Exodus (Exodus 12).
2348 BC – From the flood until the calling of Abraham was 427 years (Genesis 11 and 12).
4004 BC – From creation until the flood was 1656 years. Noah was 600 years old at the time of the flood (Genesis 5).
As you can see with relatively few steps, we can determine a year for creation and have a basic chronological framework which we can use to determine many other dates.
In the next part of this study, I will show the few steps it takes to get a birth year for Christ and also the year of His crucifixion and resurrection.
I Daniel 9:24-27, Daniel is given a vision of seventy weeks for the people of Israel. Verse 25 gives us the starting point for the 70 weeks. The starting point is the “going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem.” The end of verse 25 gives more information for the starting point when it says, “the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.” Nehemiah 2:1 gives the starting point of this prophecy as the 20th year of Artaxerxes the king. Both Ussher and Jones in the two books mentioned at the beginning of this study put Artaxerxes 20th year in 454 B.C.
Verse 25 puts “Messiah the Prince” after the sum of 7 weeks and then 62 weeks or 69 weeks. These “weeks” that are mentioned are periods of 7 years so 69 weeks is 483 years. Verse 26 says that after the 69 weeks “shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself”. Messiah was cut off when he was crucified. This prophecy dates the crucifixion of Christ in 30 A.D. (there is no year zero). Moving backward in time 31/2 years puts us at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry when he was 30 years old in 26 A.D. and leads us to one of the bridges mentioned above of the secular and scriptural dates (Luke 3:1 and 3:23).
Tiberius Caesar was co-regent with Caesar Augustus from 12 A.D. – 14 A.D. The 15th year of the reign of Tiberius (numbering inclusively) is 26 A.D. thus confirming that the Daniel 7 prophecy has been understood correctly. For those who would like another check from the scriptures, John 2:20 mentions the building of the temple taking 46 years. The rebuilding of the temple by Herod began in 20 B.C. which again leads us to the year 26 A.D. Moving back in time 30 years gives us a birth year of 4 B.C. for Christ or exactly 4000 years from the year of creation.
The 70th week of Daniel 9 will be discussed in the eschatology section of this blog. It is the 7 year tribulation period described in Matthew 24 and also Revelation 6 – 19.
From this very brief discussion on Old Testament chronology, I want to make a few statements before we finish.
A careful study of this O.T. chronology will help to build your faith in God’s word. In our lesson where we look at some of the difficult passages or apparent contradictions in the scriptures, the chronology of the O.T. will be used to show the faithfulness of every word of the Bible.
For those who are willing to do the work of using the skeletal outline given above to develop a fuller chronology, the results are tremendous. For example, you can see how old Jacob and Esau were when they met in Genesis 33. They are older than you might think. When you determine how much older Jonathan was than David, you get a new found admiration for the humility of Jonathan and his absolute trust in God.
Some of the nuggets of truth gained from this O.T. chronology can even be used in our study of eschatology. One example of this is that Lamech, Noah’s father died 5 years before the flood at the age of 777 (see notes on number 7).
A careful study of the O.T. chronology will also cause all who take the time to reject the version of the Bible called the Septuagint. The Septuagint contains many chronological absurdities such as Methuselah surviving the flood by 14 years. Rather than being a faithful B.C. Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures, it is much more likely that the Septuagint is a 4th century A.D. Alexandrian translation of the O.T. done by someone who had the book of Acts open in front of them and was trying to help God out by correcting (changing) perceived errors in the Hebrew scriptures. The Septuagint is error ridden. The Hebrew Masoretic text is faithful in every word and number for that matter.
One last observation which I take a closer look at in the Bible prophecy section of this blog is that Christ is born 4000 years after creation or the beginning of the 5th day of history. Each day of the creation account also points to a corresponding 1000 years of world history (2 Peter 3:8) through a key cross reference word. Here is an example with which to leave you. Day 5 in the Genesis 1 account of creation has the word, “abundantly”. Cross referencing this word leads directly to John 10:10 and Jesus contrasting Himself with the devil. Please look at the teaching page on the number 5 on this site.
I hope this first lesson begins to build your faith in God and His word. See you in Lesson 2.